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Reap the Wild Wind: Stratification #1 by Julie E. Czerneda
Review by Harriet Klausner
DAW Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756404567
Date: 04 September 2007 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Three races live peacefully but separately on the planet Cersi. The Om'ray, Oud and Tikitik each possesses their own clearly marked territory and rarely if ever do the species interact as the lines of demarcation are sacred based on the governance of three principles. First and foremost is that the world has always been that way and must continue; second is the coming of age Passage in which the Oud and Tikitik allow a lone Om'ray to wander into their areas; finally nothing is allowed to change on Cersi. However, the Oud and Tikitik are much more technologically advanced than their primitive Om'ray, who in spite of the three ruling planetary principles fears eventual encroachment. Within the Om'ray territory are small tribal villages. As with the Om'Ray relationship with the Oud and Tikitik, villagers never meander into a neighboring village as intermingling is outlawed except during Passage. It has always been this way and will always be this way.

However first contact occurs when aliens from the Trade Pact worlds of outer space land on Cersi. By their arrival, the outsiders have destroyed the interrelationships between the three species. At about the same time that the aliens by simply arriving have changed the underlying theme of the governance of this world that no change is acceptable, a young Om'ray coming of age female Arylis Sarc while about to embark on the Passage journey explores the taboo M'hir power. If she succeeds in harnessing its usage as she thinks she can, Arylis believes she will save her race from extinction; however, other tribesmen fear the release of this uncontrollable force will ruin an already teetering (from first contact) species.

The opening act of the Stratification series is brilliant as Julie E. Czerneda provides readers with the prehistory of Clan living in secret amidst the humans (see the Trade Pact Universe trilogy) at a time when the Om'ray as they were called remained planet bound. The cultures and interrelationships between the three species is fully developed so that the audience understands how each race lives and the governance that bind them yet keep them separate but unequal. It is critical to the story to comprehend how each race reacts to the first coming of the Trade Pact alliance.

The alien visitors shake up the acceptable status quo by just arriving. This seems so much more realistic than the Star Trek Prime Directive which states

"...the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred; no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture...Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship ...".
From definition on Star Trek section of 70disco website.
By showing up Ms. Czerneda logically claims they change the native order.

This encourages Arylis Sarc to explore where no Om'ray has gone before. She is courageous knowing she could die for violating the taboo of no change which especially prohibits use of the M'hir. Somewhat a coming of age saga, Reap The Wild Wind is a thought provoking take of choice between maintaining customs and tradition vs. reaping the benefits of progress.

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